Friday, May 20, 2011

The good, the not so good and an upcoming event

This week we have bunch of good news stories to share with you. A total of thirteen individuals deemed at risk, from Bangladesh, Cameroon, China and Zimbabwe have all recently been released from detention. Amnesty International Urgent Actions had been issued for all of them. For more details, click here

Not so good
A reprieve has been grant but it might only be temporary. Amnesty International is still closely monitoring the situation in the Ugandan Parliament regarding the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. As the incumbent members of Parliament left office ahead of the new members that will be sworn in next week, the bill had yet to be discussed. If passed, persons accused of homosexuality could face charges as drastic as the death penalty. Watch this space. For more details, click here

Upcoming events

For those of you who haven’t already heard, next Monday, 23rd May, for the first time in Australia, Ms Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be giving a public presentation. She will join a panel discussion which includes one of Australia's most prominent and well-respected Aboriginal Elders Professor Patrick Dodson and Director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Paris Aristotle AM. For more details, click here

Monday, May 2, 2011

Impact of NT Intervention Speak Out

Impact of NT Intervention Speak Out
NT Rights Holders:
  • Richard Downs Alyawarr Elder and Spokesperson Northern territory
  • Ngarla kunoth Monks Alyawarr spokesperson Northern territoy
  • Barbara Shaw Mt Nacy Town camp Alice Springs
AIA Indigenous Sponsorship recipients to attend the UN Permantent Forum:
  • Steven Ross - Yarkawa Aboriginal Corporation - Wamba Wamba Nation NSW
  • Janine Gertz - Gugu Badhun Tradional Owner Group - Nth Queensland
Our speakers will talk is on the effects of the Federal Government and NT Government roll out of the NT Emergency response, the immediate and longer term effects of this punitive legislative intervention and growing concerns over the call to extend the intervention powers which will directly effect those Aboriginal people living in town camps and those visiting Alice Springs and other major centres in the NT.

Each speaker has a unique story to be told and it is this story that will be shared with hundreds of Indigenous Peoples and the Human Rights Council as they travel form all parts of the world to attend the 10th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to be held in New York from 13 - 27th May 2011.
We will also introduce the successful recipients of the AIA Indigenous Scholarship fund to attend the UNPFII they are seen as experts in their field of work and will participate in the Indigenous peoples Caucasus and provide expert advice to the IPO Australian Delegation on issues as wide ranging as women's rights, free prior and informed consent to climate change and water.

Facilitator: Monica Morgan - Demand Dignity - Indigenous Peoples Rights Team
When: Wednesday 4th May 2-3pm
Where: Amnesty International -Level 1 - 79 Myrtle Street, Chippendale NSW

Each person can speak for about 10minutes each and then questions. All Welcome.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

NSW Action Group Catch Up & Taste of Freedom Dinner

Coinciding with National Volunteer Week, following this catch-up each of you is warmly invited to a Taste of Freedom dinner, hosted by our National Director, Claire Mallinson. This dinner is to pay tribute to the tireless work of all our volunteers over the past 50 years.

When: Tuesday 10th May 2011 (meeting 6 - 7.30pm; dinner from 7.30pm).

Where: Amnesty International Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale

RSVP: or on 8396 7665 - please mention if you are going to attend in person or ring in. While AI wants to engage with as many action groups as possible, we understand that it may be difficult (both in terms of time and money) to travel to Sydney to attend the catch-up. AI NSW is able to pay for transport for members outside the Sydney area or assist those who would like to ring in over the phone to take part in the meeting. If you are unable to attend in person but are keen to ring in: (Ph.) 96960695, (PIN) 336849#

The Catch-Up will be a great opportunity to: - Meet and engage with other NSW groups, convenors and members of AI NSW. - Receive updates on the Refugee campaign and our new campaign around AI's 50th Anniversary - Go over problems arising for action groups, especially on retention and mobilisation of members - Run through the new campaign and events - Provide us with valuable feedback about your group activities, experiences and concerns.

Looking forward to seeing all of you at the meeting!


Refugee Week is a unique time of year to celebrate the contributions that refugees bring to Australia as well as showing support to refugees and their families. It is a time to reflect on what we would do if we were in a similar position as some of those who seek asylum in Australia. It is a great opportunity to hold an event and to build awareness of the needs of refugees.

If you are an Amnesty group and want to take action for Refugee Week let us know! In 2011, Refugee Week will be celebrated from from Sunday 19 June to Saturday 25 June and coincides with World Refufee Day which is Monday 20 June.

For more information about Refugee Week or Amnesty’s Refugee campaign visit: &

NSW Community Campaigns Assistant

NSW Community Campaigns Assistant · Are you high performing, energetic and well organised coordinator? · Do you have a passion for campaigning and defending human rights ? · Sydney based part-time contract 30 May 2011 to 26 August 2011 (12 weeks)

Amnesty International Australia is one of Australia’s largest not for profit organisations and is part of the global movement defending human rights and dignity. We work with people in Australia and our region to demand respect for human rights and protect people facing abuse. To do this, we mobilise people, campaign, conduct research and raise money for our work. We are promoting a culture where human rights are embraced, valued and protected.

The Campaigning Unit develops and implements strategies for change to achieve AIA’s human rights goals by developing campaign strategies, engaging and mobilising activists and supporters to build community support for AIA’s human rights campaigns. AIA’s Community Campaigns team takes a leading role in maintaining AIA’s relationships with regional civil society and local decision makers, including implementing AIA’s campaigns at the regional level through mobilising and supporting our activists and supporters. Reporting to the Manager Community Campaigns, the NSW Community Campaigns Assistant will be responsible for supporting the Community Campaigner, activists and volunteers to achieve campaigning and other plans of Amnesty International Australia in New South Wales.

You will have:

  • Demonstrated high level of oral and written communication skills

  • Demonstrated high level organisational skills including strong administrative skills and the ability to coordinate diverse activities

  • Experience in working with a diverse range of volunteers

  • Ability to work to under pressure and to tight time schedules as a member of a team.

  • Strong computer skills, particularly word processing and data entry. Familiarity with Microsoft Access, Lotus Notes and desktop publishing programs are an advantage.

  • Understanding of and sympathy with AI's aims, basic principles and working methods.

  • It is desirable that applicants have experience in event coordination.

In return, you will be rewarded with flexible working conditions, a fantastic and supportive office environment, and the knowledge that you will be working for an organisation committed to making a difference.

If this role sounds like you and you would like to be remunerated with a base salary of $54,608 p.a. pro rata plus superannuation, please send your resume and application letter responding to the selection criteria to by 9am Friday 8 April 2011.

NB: This position is only open to current staff members and volunteers of Amnesty International Australia.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sharing AI@50 Regional Feature Stories

Are you a local activist, human rights defender or victim of human rights abuses? Do you know a local activist, human rights defender or victim of human rights abuses?

Do you feel like sharing your story?

Amnesty International Australia is on the look-out for inspiring stories which would be highlighted in local media outlets to coincide with Amnesty's 50th Birthday.

If you want to participate in this celebration, than just send us the following information at the following address before May 2nd:

1- Name (individual or group)

2- One-two sentences about your story and why it would be of interest. E.g. Why did you get involved, what did you do (letter writing, advocacy, have you experienced human rights abuses) and what makes your story unique and inspirational?

3- Relationship/connection with Amnesty International. E.g. Are you a supporter of Amnesty, since when, have you been involved in campaigns, etc?

4- Available photos

5- Contact details

Friday, March 25, 2011

Making the Most of the Media: Media Workshop

Please join us for this exciting media workshop:

This media course offers practical advice for effective media work. Media is an essential method for taking human rights messages to wide and diverse audiences. Engaging with the media can determine the success of a campaign and can help influence community attitudes and perceptions.

This workshop aims to provide the essential tools and tips for engaging with media and making good media work integral to your activism including:
  • Getting into the media

  • Creating a scene

  • Writing a media release

  • Writing a letter to the editor

  • Being effective online

  • The all important interview

  • Knowing your Amnesty facts and messages

When: Thursday 5th of May 6:00 - 8:30pm

Where: NSW Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle St Chippendale


Thursday, March 17, 2011

NSW 'Get Active' Evening

The NSW region will hold a 'Get Active' Evening to give new members, activists and volunteers an introduction to Amnesty International and present the various ways in which you can get involved in the defence of human rights.

When: Tuesday, March 22nd, time TBC

Where: At the NSW action centre - Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale


Authorities again fail to ensure justice for the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee

Amnesty International has expressed outrage at the Queensland Police Service’s failure to secure justice for the death in custody of Indigenous man Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004.

The Queensland Police Service yesterday rejected the Crime and Misconduct Commission’s recommendation to bring disciplinary action against the officers involved in the flawed investigation that followed Mr Doomadgee’s death.

Several inquests into Mr Doomadgee’s death and criminal proceedings against Sergeant Hurley have not resulted in accountability for Mr Doomadgee’s tragic death.

“This decision means that here we are, six years on, and achieving justice for Mr Doomadgee and his family is further away from becoming a reality,” said Katie Wood, Amnesty International Australia.

Last year, the Crime and Misconduct Commission found that investigations into Mr Doomadgee’s death were neither impartial nor thorough.

“In what may seem like an obvious requirement, investigations into deaths in police custody must be conducted independently of the police responsible for that custody,” said Katie Wood.

“A lack of impartiality and independence leads to flawed police investigations and ultimately denies any opportunity for justice for a death in custody,” said Katie Wood.

Amnesty International has raised its concerns about the death and subsequent investigation with various UN bodies. In 2008, for instance, the UN Committee Against Torture urged Australia to ensure that any deaths in detention are investigated promptly, independently and impartially.

The organisation also continues to call on both the Queensland and Federal Governments to ensure that the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody recommendations are implemented, so that another Indigenous family does not have to again endure such a distressing situation.

“Ensuring accountability for the taking of Mr Doomadgee’s life is one very significant part of preventing future tragic deaths,” said Katie Wood.

We did it!

After five years of our letter writing, petition signing and advocacy, our leaders have stepped up and released a national plan to help put an end to violence against women in Australia.

Did you know that some 4 million women in Australia have experienced violence at home, intimidation by their loved ones or sexual abuse at some stage of their lives? Worst of all, it often takes place out of sight or behind closed doors, helping abusers escape justice. This isn’t a distant problem happening in another country: it’s right here in our living rooms, our streets and our communities.

But together, our hard work has ensured our politicians have put in place a positive blueprint to help eradicate violence against women for good.

For the first time in our country’s history, we have a nationwide framework that will protect survivors of physical and sexual abuse, provide sufficient services to women and children experiencing violence and prosecute abusers. Under this plan, survivors of violence will receive the same level of support and protection, no matter which state or territory they’re in.

It’s a coordinated, all-of-government approach, and your actions made sure it happened.

Remember, wins like this don’t happen overnight. This victory says so much about the persistence, passion and power of the Amnesty movement when we come together to demand change. This is not the work of one person alone; it’s the work of thousands of people like you.

Just last week, we celebrated the centenary of International Women's Day by remembering the remarkable achievements of women in Australia and around the world. And what a way to celebrate!

Thank you and congratulations for making Australia a better, fairer place for women.

To read abut the plan and how you made it happen:

Now that our politicians have responded to our calls, it’s important to acknowledge their actions. If you've got a moment, you can leave a short message of thank you with us (through the above link) and we'll deliver it directly to the former and current federal ministers for the Status of Women, Tanya Plibersek and Kate Ellis.

AI@50 Regional Feature Stories

Are you a local activist, human rights defender or victim of human rights abuses? Do you know a local activist, human rights defender or victim of human rights abuses?

Do you feel like sharing your story?

Amnesty International Australia is on the look-out for inspiring stories which would be highlighted in local media outlets to coincide with Amnesty's 50th Birthday.

If you want to participate in this celebration, than just send us the following information at the following address: before May 2nd

1- Name (individual or group)

2- One-two sentences about your story and why it would be of interest. E.g. Why did you get involved, what did you do (letter writing, advocacy, have you experienced human rights abuses) and what makes your story unique and inspirational?

3- Relationship/connection with Amnesty International. E.g. Are you a supporter of Amnesty, since when, have you been involved in campaigns, etc?

4- Available photos

5- Contact details

Online Action : Demand your MP end mandatory detention

To date, the refugee debate in Australia has been dominated by misinformation and unfounded fears. As a result, the unfair and ineffective policy of mandatory detention has continued virtually unchallenged.

As Australia’s detention system deteriorates, it’s time to get your MP to rethink refugees and support a detention policy that is based on the facts:

- It is not illegal to seek asylum, even if arriving by boat (Australian Migration Act, 1958);

- Most asylum seekers who arrive by boat are found to be genuine refugees; and

- Asylum seekers who arrive by boat make up less than 2% of our overall migration.

Mandatory detention ignores these facts, and unfairly punishes people who are exercising their right to asylum. Demand that your MP support an end to mandatory detention, and represent your concerns to the rest of their party.

Get involved:

Sign the petition below and demand your local MP help end mandatory detention in Australia.

To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives,

I am calling on my federal representative to rethink refugees and help end the policy of mandatory detention. This policy ignores the facts:

- It is not illegal to seek asylum, even if arriving by boat (Australian Migration Act, 1958);
- Most asylum seekers who arrive by boat are found to be genuine refugees; and
- The numbers of asylum seekers who arrive by boat make less than 2% of our overall migration.

I believe that mandatory detention unfairly punishes people fleeing war, terror and violence. I call on all MPs to show real leadership on this issue and commit to detention reform that focuses on the humane, efficient and cost-effective policy of housing asylum seekers in the community.

More information on:

Will Christmas Island inquiry meet international human rights standards?

Amnesty International has called for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to immediately announce the terms of the inquiry into the use of force against protesting asylum seekers on Christmas Island, and to confirm that it will meet international human rights standards regarding independence and impartiality.

“Following revelations that bean bag rounds, fired by shotguns, were used against protesting asylum seekers on Christmas Island, Minister Bowen must urgently confirm that the incidents will be fully and independently investigated and that the finding of the inquiry will be made publicly available,” said Andrew Beswick, Campaigns Director for Amnesty International Australia.

“While the full details of the incidents in which tear gas and shotguns were used are yet to emerge, this use of force on Christmas Island is extremely concerning. Amnesty International expects that an independent inquiry will establish and disclose whether the use of force was appropriate and proportional, and whether the situation was properly managed by authorities and contractors prior to the deployment of force.

“So far, the Government response has raised more questions than it has answered.”

In 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Committee recommended that Australia establish mechanisms to carry out independent investigations of complaints concerning excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. Amnesty International fully expects that the inquiry into incidents on Christmas Island comply with this recommendation.

While the Australian Federal Police guidelines governing the use of force are not publicly available, Amnesty International calls on the agency to confirm that they are in line with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. “Amnesty International has repeatedly warned of deteriorating conditions within the detention centres on Christmas Island,” said Andrew Beswick. “The Government must take immediate steps to address the underlying issues, including the length of time it is taking to process asylum claims, and the remote overcrowded conditions in which asylum seekers are being detained.”

Amnesty International has also reiterated its call for minimum standards of training to be introduced for all government and contractor staff who engage with asylum seekers in detention, including training in dealing with critical incidents and mental health issues.

The international human rights organisation continues to call for an end to the mandatory, offshore and remote detention of asylum seekers.


Following a visit to Christmas Island to inspect detention facilities and conditions in October 2010, Amnesty International provided this briefing to the UN Committee Against Torture:

Amongst the concerns raised by Amnesty International were the length of time it is taking the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to process claims and the lack of adequate medical, mental health and counselling services available to the growing populations in remote detention centres such as Christmas Island.

At the time of Amnesty International’s visit, hundreds of people were being detained in tent-style accommodation on Christmas Island and additional facilities were hastily being erected to cope with new arrivals. At that time, some asylum seekers had been detained on the remote island for over 16 months.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Film screening of eye-opening documentary, "Our Generation"

On Friday, April 8th*, Amnesty International Australia will host a film screening at the NSW Action Centre, to bring attention to the Australian government’s failure to uphold its international commitment to protecting the rights of indigenous people.

Directed and produced by Sinem Saban and Damien Curtis – who have both been involved in fighting for Aboriginal rights for years –, “Our Generation” tells the story of a struggle hidden from the Australian public and shows how the nation’s first people continue in their fight for survival despite the National Apology issued by the Labor government in 2008.

This film is a call to Australia to take a fresh and unflinching look at these unresolved issues.

Renowned journalist, Jeff McMullen will give an introduction at the screening.

Please RSVP to

*Time yet to be confirmed

Introducing Amnesty International Australia's new Reconciliation Action Plan

First of all, what is a Reconciliation Action Plan?

The RAP program was launched in July 2006 as a forward looking aspect of the 40th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, the most successful in Australia’s history, in which more than 90% of voters said “YES” to equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fellow citizens.

The RAP program turns “good intentions into action” by encouraging and supporting organisations, large and small, to engage within their sphere of influence in the national effort to close the 17-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and other Australians.

Over the last year, Amnesty International Australia in conjunction with Reconciliation Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultants, have been working on our Reconciliation Action Plan. At the end of January, we took the opportunity to celebrate the completion of the RAP and launched it at a joint ceremony with the opening of the new Adelaide action centre.

The RAP has been coming together for quite a while, and we should particularly thank Sophie Peer for all her work in producing the Plan. A big thank you also to Reconciliation Australia, for providing guidance and support as we created our first RAP.

More information about Reconciliation Australia:

and Amnesty International Australia’s RAP:

Join the Rethink Refugee Campaign

Let's reject the myths and think again about asylum seekers and refugees

As part of the Amnesty International Refugee and Asylum Seeker Campaign, an action pack – including details of letters, photo messages and video messages – petitions, flyers, and solidarity cards in both Persian and English are now available for you to get involved and change the discourse on refugees!

If you are interested in these documents or want to plan a public event, please email: to register your interests.

Check out the website for more info about the issue & the campaign!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Case Files for Action Groups

Su Su Nway - Myanmar

Labour activist Su Su Nway, who is a member of the main opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD), is serving a sentence of eight years and six months in a remote prison, far from her family, for taking part in anti-government protests.
In November 2007, she was arrested for putting up an anti-government banner near the hotel in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, where the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar was staying.
After her arrest on 13 November 2007, Su Su Nway was tried in the North Yangon District Court and was sentenced on 11 November 2008 to 12 years and six months in prison. Her sentence was later reduced on appeal to eight years and six months. She was moved to Kale prison, in the north of the country, some 680 miles from Yangon, and from there to Hkamti prison, in August 2009, which is one of the remotest prisons in the country
Campaigning for her to be released – prisoner of conscience – also for better conditions (she is being held in solitary confinement at present and not allowed to see family or have medical attention)

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia - China

Dr Liu Xiaobo, prominent Chinese scholar, and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, is serving an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion of state power". His sentence was based on writing six articles distributed on websites hosted outside mainland China between 2005 and 2007 and devising Charter 08, soliciting signatures to it and publishing it online.
His wife, Liu Xia, a poet and artist, is under illegal house arrest in Beijing. She was last heard from on 18 October 2010. They are human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience.
Campaigning for them both to be released immediately, also for right to freedom of expression.

What do the groups need to do to start work?

Email an expression of interest to the IAR inbox - - and I can send them a short registration form. The registration form provides information on what the groups will be doing, the program that we use for casefiles (Basecamp) and collects the information required to register them with Basecamp.

What if I need more information?

Please send me an email - - if you require any additional information.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children

Today the Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, announced the launch of the ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children’. She stated that, “It is time to end the ad hoc and generalised solutions – it is time for us to work together, to share our best practices and to make a real difference for Australian women.”

The plan aims to:
- reduce the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault;
- increase the proportion of women who feel safe in their communities;
- reduce deaths related to domestic violence and sexual assault; and
- reduce proportion of children exposed to their mother’s or carer’s experience of domestic violence.

The announcement of the national plan is wonderful news for everyone involved in the Stop Violence Against Women campaign and is further confirmation that Amnesty International’s campaigns do make a difference.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Urgent Action - Catholic priest risks being returned to prison

Vietnamese human rights activist and Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly is at risk of being returned to prison in mid-March despite his fragile health. He suffered from a stroke in prison in November 2009 which left him partially paralyzed, after being held in solitary confinement. He did not receive adequate medical treatment.

Father Ly, now aged 64, was granted a 12 month “temporary suspension” of his eight year prison sentence on 15 March 2010 so that he could receive medical treatment after also being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Since his release, he has been living under surveillance at a house for retired priests in the diocese of the Archbishop of Hue, in central Viet Nam.

Whilst in prison, Father Ly was held mainly in solitary confinement, and suffered from several periods of ill-health over a seven month period before having a stroke. He received neither a proper diagnosis nor adequate medical care. The authorities sent him to Prison Hospital 198 in mid-November 2009, but returned him to prison on 11 December while he was still partially paralyzed.

Father Ly was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in 2007 for spreading "propaganda" against the state. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, arrested and convicted for the peaceful dissemination of his views on democracy and human rights.
Father Ly was first jailed for his criticism of government policies on religion in the late 1970s, and has already spent 17 years as a prisoner of conscience, for calling for respect for human rights and freedom of expression. He is one of the founders of the internet-based pro-democracy movement Bloc 8406, and has helped to set up other political groups, which are banned by the Vietnamese authorities. He also secretly published a dissident journal, To Do Ngon Luan (Freedom and Democracy).

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or your own language:

  • Calling on the authorities to release Father Ly immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience, arrested solely for the peaceful expression of his non-violent beliefs.
  • Requesting that Father Ly is not returned to prison when the 12 months suspension of his sentence expires in March 2011.

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Pham Gia Khiem
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1 Ton That Dam Street
Ba Dinh district, Ha Noi
Viet Nam
Fax: + 8443 823 1872
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Public Security
Le Hong Anh
Ministry of Public Security
44 Yet Kieu Street
Ha Noi
Viet Nam
Fax: 8443 942 0223
Salutation: Dear Minister

And copies to:
Apostolic Nuncio to Viet Nam
(Diplomatic Vatican representative to Viet Nam)
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli
55 Waterloo Street 6,
Singapore 0718

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update of UA313/09. Further information:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This Saturday stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt!

Volunteers needed urgently for Saturday for a range of roles including collecting petition signatures! RSVP ASAP:

Stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt and the wider Middle East and North Africa to demand an end to the restrictions on protesters' rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Amnesty International is coordinating solidarity actions across the world - including a large demonstration in Trafalgar Square in London, actions in the USA and Australia cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, among other cities around the world.

The Egyptian people must be able to make their voices heard and journalists and human rights activists must be able to carry out their work free from fear of intimidation or harassment.
We invite you to join us in standing in solidarity with people demanding an end to repression and respect for human rights.

When: Saturday, 12th of February, 12:00 - 1:00pm
Where: Town Hall Square, next to Town Hall steps

Monday, February 7, 2011

2010 in Review

2010 In Review
2010 was an action packed year for human rights. We have much to be proud of. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment. Throughout 2010 we sent regular updates on key campaign activities. By clicking on the link below you’ll be able to access a slide show featuring 10 such highlights from 2010 as well as a blog by Claire Mallinson, first published by ABC’s The Drum:

Refugee Campaign
The boat tragedy at Christmas Island on 15th December was a shocking reminder of the very real risks that asylum seekers take in their search for safety. In responding to this disaster Amnesty International asked Australians to remember that at the centre of the refugee political debate are real people seeking help, people who feel they have no alternative to making a treacherous boat voyage.

We know that if we are going to get lasting improvement in refugee policy we need to work hard to address public misunderstandings about asylum seekers. The tragic incident at Christmas Island has come at a time when AIA’s advertising ‘Rethink Refugees’ campaign is in full swing, with TV commercials, billboards, cinema ads and a variety of other media asking the public to think again about ‘the boats’.

This is a long term process but our polling shows that the ads are already starting to be noticed. People are engaging with the advertising and some positive shifts in attitude are beginning to happen.

Look out for the ads when you are at the movies over the summer, and don’t forget to get your copy of the ‘Let’s Change the Conversation’ booklet from your local Action Centre. For additional information please see:

Burma (Myanmar)
On Sunday 7th November Burma went to the polls. Our campaign in the lead up to and beyond the elections was focused on the call for the three freedoms - freedom of expression, assembly and association - for the people of Burma. Thousands of people in Australia and across the globe contributed to taking over 100,000 actions sending emails to the governments of some of Burma's nearest neighbours in South East Asia.

Following the election our campaign for real change in Burma was given a massive boost with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. However over 2,200 other political prisoners remain behind bars in Burma.

In the lead up to the election AI Australia joined forces with AI UK to buy radios for Burma and give Burmese people access to independent information from outside the grasp of the junta. The project has been a huge success with over 10,000 radios bought by AI supporters. For additional information see:

U2 concerts Demand Dignity
In December U2 played 8 concerts across Australia, and as part of a global partnership with AI the band allowed our activists and staff to attend to collect signatures on a petition for better sanitation in the slums of Nairobi. A big thank you to all the activists across Australia who worked up to 12 hours stints to collect over 31,000 petition signatures in support of the Demand Dignity campaign. For more information please see:

2011 is Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary year. Exiting plans are in development for local, national and international celebrations of 5 decades of human rights achievement. Our AI at 50 launch will take place on our birthday on 28th May, 2011. We’ll keep you informed as plans develop.

Action for Women’s Rights
In November we launched action in support of the One Million Signatures Campaign to end discrimination against women in Iranian law. Already thousands of supporters have sent in action cards to support the campaign.

Following on from the Stop Violence Against Women global campaign, this action is part of our continuing work for women’s human rights as part of our ‘gender mainstreaming’ process, where we are systematically integrating a gender perspective across all our campaigns. We've held gender mainstreaming training for project leaders, Board members and the Senior Management Team.

In October Claire attended the launch of AI’s report on barriers to reproductive health for women in Indonesia, and we will continue working for the rights of women in Indonesia in 2011.

Our work in support of the UN Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is ongoing, with a presence at the Tarerer Festival near Warrnambool in November. The endorsement of the Declaration by the US President in December was also welcome news. Finally we have agreement among world governments on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

November Board Meeting
At the November Board meeting held in Sydney on 20th and 21st November, 2010 the Board reviewed campaign and project plans for 2011.

The Board agreed that our key campaigns for 2011 will be:

Our Refugee and Asylum Seeker campaign. This will be the high priority human rights impact area for the first half of 2011.
Our Indigenous Rights - Homelands campaign. This will be the high priority human rights impact area for the second half of 2011.
Demand Dignity International and Crisis Response. These campaigns will be medium level priorities throughout the year.
Outreach on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Individuals at Risk will be two key campaign projects that we’ll focus on during 2011.

In addition, the organisation will focus on two Strengthen Grow and Inspire projects: Amnesty International's 50th anniversary celebrations and SuMS (our supporter database development and implementation). Our Inspiring 500,000 Supporters project and External Communications will continue as core work, as will our Reconciliation Action Plan.

The Board agreed to our overall budget for 2011 with additional voluntary contributions made to the International Secretariat.

The Board also discussed the following items at the November Board meeting:

Amnesty International Australia's role in the Asia Pacific region. During 2011 we’ll prioritise key areas where we can strategically add value to the work of AI Asia Pacific. We’ll keep you informed as our plans unfold.

Opportunities for activist engagement and inspiring participation to ensure that we achieve reach our 2014 vision.

The recent Asia Pacific Amnesty International Forum meeting in Hong Kong were strong relationships were built between the sections in the region, and discussions were had about the future work of Amnesty International.

Outcomes from the 2009 International Council Meeting and an update on the work of international committees.

Amnesty International’s draft Reconciliation Action Plan. Our Reconciliation Action plan is expected to be launched on 28th January 2011 at the Adelaide Action Centre.

Our 2011 National Annual General Meeting (NAGM). The Board agreed that NAGM will be held in the Sydney Action Centre on 9th July, 2011. This meeting will only go for one day and will focus on governance and constitutional matters. The reason for the shorter AGM is that in October AI Australia will host a Human Rights Conference designed to enhance human rights debate and provide opportunities for workshops and training. The Conference will take place in early October 2011.

International Council Meeting (ICM) resolutions for the 2011 International Council Meeting. Amnesty International Australia has submitted two resolutions for the meeting and they can be found at:

Continued lobbying for a National Plan of Action to end violence against women, with the support of AIA’s women’s teams at the state/territory level.
The head of the Australian delegation to the Human Rights Council’s recent Universal Periodic Review of Australia indicated that the Federal Government was hoping to have the endorsement of all States and territories for the implementation of the NPOA in early 2011. COAG is scheduled to next meet on 14 February so we will be watching the outcomes of that closely.

We very much look forward to working with you to achieve human rights impact in Amnesty International’s 50th year.

If you have any questions about anything in this update or would like to ask question, please contact us at:

Monday, January 31, 2011

Upcoming refugee training sessions

More refugee booklet training sessions will be run in the Action Centre in the following months. If you would like to attend but cannot make any of these sessions, please email and register your interest and we will get back to you when more training sessions come up.

For more info on our current refugee campaign see blog posts below.

Session 1
When: Tuesday 1st March, 6-8pm (TBC)
Where: Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale

Session 2:
When: Wednesday 20th April, 6-8pm (TBC)
Where: Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale

Session 3
When: Wednesday 11th May, 6-8pm (TBC)
Where: Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale

Monday, January 24, 2011

Face to Face Locations Starting 24/01/2011

Monday 24th January - Pyrmont

Tuesday 25th January - Glebe

Wednesday 26th January - Public Holiday

Thursday 27th January - Milsons Point

Friday 28th January - Newtown

Saturday 29th January - none

Refugee Training Sessions

When: Wednesday 2 February and Monday 7 February
Time: 6-8pm
Where: Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale

For more information see blog posts below about the current refugee campaign.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Amnesty International NSW Catch Up

NSW Action Group Catch-Up

When: Monday 21st February 2011 from 6 - 7.30pm. Where: Amnesty International Action Centre, Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale

RSVP (please mention if you are going to attend in person or ring in), enquiries and to arrange assistance for transport and accommodation: or on 8396 7665

If you are unable to attend in person but are keen to ring in: (Ph.) 96960695, (PIN) 336849# Amnesty International NSW is holding its first NSW Action Group Catch-Up of 2011. The Catch-Up will be a great opportunity to:

- Meet and engage with other NSW groups, convenors and members of AI NSW. - Receive updates on the Refugee campaign and our new campaign around AI's 50th Anniversary - Review and receive updates on AIA's consultation and planning policies - Go over problems arising for action groups, especially on retention and mobilisation of members - Run through the new campaign and events - Provide us with valuable feedback about your group activities, experiences and concerns. While AI wants to engage with as many Action Groups as possible, we understand that it may be difficult (both in terms of time and money) to travel to Sydney to attend the Catch-Up. AI NSW is able to pay for Catch-Up transport for Action Groups outside the Sydney area or assist those who would like to ring in over the phone to take part in the meeting.

Please contact us ASAP to organise these things. Light food and drinks will be provided. Looking forward to catching up at the meeting!

Refugee campaign

As part of the Amnesty International Refugee and Asylum Seeker Campaign, we are encouraging Australians to have 10 Conversations about asylum seekers. This is a strategy to get Australians to ‘think again’ about asylum seekers in order to facilitate genuine attitudinal change within the community and in broader Australia. Activists will be armed with facts and personal stories from asylum seekers to stimulate wide, informed discussion on the refugee debate in Australia. The idea is that peopel can draw on the relationshiops of influence they have within their peronal spheres and ask these people to think again about asylum seeksrs and use this as a way to change the debate more broadly.

Amnesty International will be running training sessions throughout the year with our various action groups as well as with members of the general public. These training sessions will teach you about the broader campaign, why the conversation startegy is so important in creating a movement of change and weverything you need to know about have a conversation about asylum seekers. Tentative date for the next training session is 7th February.

If you are interested in attending a training session (First one is on the 19th of Jan at teh NSW Action Centre) please email: to register your intests.

We will be holding general infomation sessions as well as train the trainer sessions so people can roll out the training again within their communities.

Check out the website for more info about the issue & the campaign!

Face to Face Locations Starting 17/01/11

Monday 17th January - Sutherland and Potts Point

Tuesday 18th January - Leichhardt and Randwick

Wednesday 19th January - Burwood and Rozelle

Thursday 20th January - Kensington

Friday 21st January - Pyrmont and Newtown (*note* CCNSW and HFA teams should not work on Missenden Road near the hospital as this is inappropriate.)

Saturday 22nd January - (none)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Human Rights Innovation Fund

Amnesty International's Human Rights Innovation Fund provides those interested in promoting and defending human rights with funding to support new, innovative and creative initiatives which will have impact in Australia. The Fund is an important part of Amnesty International's ongoing commitment to developing partnerships with other organisations to increase our human rights impact and promote the growth of an Australian human rights constituency. The closing date for the next round of applications is on 28th February 2011 (and quarterly thereafter). If you are, or know of, an individual or organisation interested in applying for funds, please visit our web site for the guidelines and application form at

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Upcoming Refugee Events

We will be running a training session for the refugees campaign on Wednesday 19th January in the Action Centre. The training will introduce our current campaign tool, the conversation booklet, and teach you how to have a meaningful conversation about refugees and answer any questions you may have. Everyone interested is welcome to attend.
When: Wednesday 19th January, 6-8pm
Where: Level 1, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale
Event page:

We also have another upcoming event on Saturday 29th January. Artist Shannon Crees is painting a mural in support of refugees at Bondi Beach and Amnesty will be hosting a picnic to celebrate the completion of her mural. The picnic will also be a chance to learn more about Amnesty and our current refugee campaign. Some food and drink will be provided but please feel free to bring a plate.
When: Saturday 29th January, 10am-12pm
Where: Behind the skate park, South End of Bondi Beach
Event page:

Inspirational Stories for AI@50 and Upcoming Events

As part of planning for AI@50, the media team is looking to start collecting stories from yourselves, activists and campaigners who have inspirational personal stories which could possibly be used for media opportunities.
This could include:

  • Inspirational stories from communities
  • Challenging and changing community perceptions in relation to human rights issues
  • Human rights wins
  • Quirky and colourful stories of hobbies and off-beat accounts of what individuals get up to when they're not out and about defending human rights
  • Stories from individuals who have suffered and overcome human rights abuses
  • People who have been directly affected by the work of Amnesty International

If everyone could start thinking about ideas and possibilities for the above, that would be fantastic. Feel free to email through any suggestions or stories as you can come across them. We are trying to build up a bit of content that we can draw from as we look to promote AI@50.

Also, it would be fantastic if you could email information on upcoming events. We are starting to put together a key dates calendar for 2011 so we can better work with you on local media opportunities, so if you could continue to send on dates (tentative or confirmed), that would be fantastic.

Send emails to:
Ruby Johnson
NSW Community Campaigner

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Face to Face Locations Starting 10/01/11

Monday 10th January - Coffs Harbour

Tuesday 11th January - Urunga

Wednesday 12th January - Nambucca Heads

Thursday 13th January - Coffs Harbour

Friday 14th January - Dee Why

Saturday 15th January - Bellingen

Human Rights Innovation Fund - Update

As you know, the purpose of the HRIF is to provide those interested in promoting and defending human rights with direct access to funding to support new, innovative and creative initiatives which will have impact in Australia. The HRIF is an important part of Amnesty International's ongoing commitment to developing and nurturing partnerships with other organisations to increase our human rights impact.

The HRIF Committee worked actively in 2010 to promote the fund to a broad range of community organisations. Success is evidenced by the volume of applications, with 40 applications received over the four funding rounds in 2010. Applications addressed a wide variety of human rights issues, from child trafficking to refugees, using an array of techniques such as documentary films, photographic exhibitions, cultural festivals, web sites, forums, public events, mobile street stalls, theatre, human rights forums, education and training. Eight projects were funded for a total of $57,590, enabling Amnesty International to partner with organisations such as ANTaR Queensland and NSW, Peace Brigades International – Australia, the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee of WA, Urapuntja Council Aboriginal Corporation and ActNow Theatre for Social Change.

In the last funding round of 2010, the HRIF Committee received fifteen applications for projects. There was an interesting mix of proposals including a travelling art and photography exhibition about Karen refugees in Thailand camps, cultural mapping relating to Indigenous land rights, human rights forums and a rights-based development radio program.

The Committee has chosen three proposals to fund. The first is a social marketing campaign by All Together Now, a relatively new organisation which aims to eliminate racist behaviour by promoting the acceptance of cultural diversity. All Together Now will partner with The Bodyshop to deliver a social media package to promote the rights and responsibilities of individuals as members of a tolerant, inclusive society. The project has a specific focus on race equality and will engage with young people, who are positive about diversity, and empower them to speak out about racism in a positive and courageous way. These younger people have a unique capacity to influence their ambivalent peers and family members. This ‘ambivalent group’ represents around 33% of the population as identified in the “Mapping Social Cohesion” report.

The second proposal to receive funds is the South Australian-based youth led theatre company, ActNow Theatre for Social Change Inc. Working with sexual health agency SHine SA and Southern Primary Health, ActNow Theatre will be the creative driver for the project Safe and Free, an interactive theatre performance addressing homophobia in high schools. The grant will enable the development of script/performance and three pilot presentations to school students on bullying, using homophobia as a case study.

Amnesty International will also partner with Peace Brigades International (PBI) – Australia, which provides crucial support to the organisation’s field projects in Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico and Nepal. PBI’s field teams comprise 60 – 80 international observers, who work with human rights defenders representing 40 grassroots human rights organisations and individuals. PBI’s accompaniment work is only effective to deter violence when it is supported by a highly organised and international Political Support Network, which represents, strengthens and focuses existing international concern. This network operates in a similar way to Amnesty International’s Urgent Action process for individuals at risk, however its focus is high-level advocacy and influence.

This project aims to enhance the protection of human rights defenders in PBI’s project countries, and the grant will enable the organisation of three high-profile public events specifically to build the membership of the Political Support Network. The project also provides an opportunity for us to develop our relationship with PBI through shared public forums, mutual promotion of events and activities, and the development of shared local human rights advocacy and protection strategies.

If you have any questions or comments about the Human Rights Innovation Fund please contact me. If you know of an individual or organisation interested in applying for funds, please visit our web site for the guidelines and application form at:

There are 4 funding rounds each year – the first one for 2011 closes on 28th February.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Burma campaign update

The Radios for Burma campaign in 2010 was a great success with the number of radios received well exceeding our target of 1500. As of 2 November we had received 1817 radios with more still coming. For more information about the Radios for Burma campaign go to our website:

One of our key objectives of the Burma campaign was to get the international community to start talking about the elections in terms of the three freedoms - expression, assembly and association - rather than using the 'free and fair' language. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in a statement that, “There are the more than 2,000 persons in Myanmar who, in most cases, have been convicted by laws that limit freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly and contravene international laws. “ This is a great achievement for all of our coordinated campaigning and advocacy work of the past months. The use of these terms is small in comparison to the serious human rights situation inside Burma, but significant in terms of our ability to shift international opinion and set the standards by which states should be measured.

If you haven't already, be sure to join the call for the three freedoms:

UN restores gay clause to killings resolution

UN member states have voted to restore a controversial reference to sexual orientation in a resolution against the unjustified killing of minority groups.

The clause had been removed after pressure from some Arab and African member states but the US had pushed to have it reinstated.

The General Assembly voted 93 in favour of the US proposal, with 55 countries voting against and 27 abstaining.

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, welcomed the adoption of the amended resolution, saying it sent a "clear and resounding message" that justice and human rights applied to all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.

But ahead of the vote, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Chitsaka Chipaziwa, attacked the US amendment, saying there was no need to refer explicitly to sexual orientation.

The General Assembly passes resolutions condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings every two years.

The original 2008 declaration had included an explicit reference to killings committed because of the victims' sexual orientation.